Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Royal Fail

Royal mail annoyed me today.  A lot. So much so that I even updated my Facebook status with a mini-rant.

It all started yesterday, when I received a letter from them saying that a package was being held until I paid them £25, £17 duty plus an £8 handling fee.  They pay the duty on my behalf and then charge me for the privilege.  I didn't ask them for this nor did they ask me if I wanted it, but they went and did it anyway.  I paid the £25 and the package arrived this afternoon, but more on that later.

This morning, I went to the post office.  Not an experience I enjoy but it had to be done and it gets me out of the house.  Anyway, I had to return a small piece of computer hardware, no bigger than a PC card.  It was to be registered first class and I needed an envelope.  How hard could it be.

Hard enough as it turns out.  First off,  the envelope.  I queued up, asking the lady for a padded envelope about so big.  She charged me 80p for a white non-padded envelope with airmail written on it.  "Will this do..?" she bellowed..."mah, 'suppose" I replied.

I had some bubble-wrap with me and didn't really care so off I went to stuff the envelope and address it.  My pen, being a felt-tip, did not work with this plasticy vessel so I went back to the counter and grabbed the one and only pen available, a Bic.  Sorted.

I did the addressing and rejoined the queue.  The next person to serve me suggested that it would cost me £45 to insure the it?  I want to post it, not insure it...Is it valuable she asked...£30 says I...and what pray tell am I insuring against? Theft?  Can you not be trusted then?  I just want it registered first class please?..She then holds up a piece of wood with a letterbox size hole cut in it, and demonstrates the envelope not fitting this letterbox...I didn't know what to I suggest that if the postman is faced with a letterbox when he gets there, and is unsure about what to do, that he tries pushing it in, as its mostly bubble-wrap that I'm sending anyway.

That'll be £2.48 please...I hand over £2...she gives me a look...I raise an eyebrow...another 48p please...I hand over another £2...she hands back a pound, then some change...job done..."Do you want any mobile phone top-up?"  I'm sorry?  "Mobile phone top-up? Do you want any?"...Well the battery is a bit flat but no thanks, I'm grand.

I thought that was it with Royal mail for the day but no, there was more to come.

The package they stopped and charged me £8 for stopping, arrived in the afternoon.  The postman rang the doorbell and almost immediately rapped his knuckles on the door.  I was barely up out of my seat when he was disappearing back to his much time does it take him to answer his door?  Was I supposed to be at the door waiting for him?  He didn't get away and I got my package.

I have another delivery on the way.  A package of cigars from Fox of St. James.  They emailed me this morning to say the order has been sent registered first class, and here is the tracking number and so on.  (I wonder if they were offered the mobile phone top-up service).  I wasn't sure if it would arrive today or tomorrow so a few hours after the email arrived, I decided to check out the tracking website.  Royal mail again obviously.

The status was "On the Way" and that their records did not show that the package had been delivered.  Well that's reassuring, but I already know its on the way because the people who posted it told me so.  When it arrives, maybe I should check back with the tracking site, just to be sure it really has been delivered.

Royal mail failed me today and we are now enemies.

Friday, 8 April 2011

Short Spring in my step

Spring lasted about 3 days then summer hit London.  Hopefully summer will last a bit longer.  Monday and Tuesday were terrible, proper bad wet windy stay indoors weather. Certainly not cigar smoking weather. Then it all changed on Wednesday. Perfect for outdoor pursuits, such as sitting down to smoke a cigar and drink ale.

So I've spent some time in sun this week and managed to pick up a bit of a farmers tan, or sportsmans tan as I like to call it.  I also picked up some cigars and beers.  Probably more than I should but hey, it is summer after all and some of us don't have to get up for work in the morning.  I did do a 30 minutes power work-out on Tuesday and Wednesday so I feel good about myself.  Might do another one today.  Bit tired though.  My little angel woke up at 4:10am and didn't get back to bed until 6am.  The joys.

The cigars this week were a Romeo y Julieta Exhibition No. 4, a Partagas Serie P No. 2, a Oliva Serie V - Belicoso and a Ramon Allones specially selected.  The RyJ was the best cigar I've smoked in a while.  Not the biggest of cigars, but it lasted over an hour and was great from start to finish.  The roll was perfect.  Great price too.  The Partagas was also very nice but not up to the same standard as the Romeo. Bigger and more expensive.  The Romeo was sitting in the humidor for 3 or 4 weeks so maybe that had something to do with it.  I think I've proved, that when it comes to cigars, bigger is not always better.  The Oliva was a nice surprise.  A fine cigar that I would recommend and I look forward to trying again.  The RASS was great too.

Another of my hobbies is the garden, which I have to say, is looking good again.  As this is the place where I do most of my cigar smoking, I think it should be treated with the respect it deserves, so I might as well put some effort in.  The plants are all in order, pretty much, and it's just the seating needs sanding and staining, so I guess that's the weekend sorted.

I went a bit over the top with plants last year, which involved way too much effort for the returns we got, so this year, all I've got on the go are onion, lettuce, basil, strawberry, mint, carrots, tomato and raspberries. The raspberry plants were put down last year so this year is the first year to fruit.  Fingers crossed, but it's looking good so far.

Here's to another day in the sun.  Enjoy the weekend and the Masters.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Spring has arrived. Yay!

At least according to my Magnolias.

I like Saturdays and today was a pretty good Saturday.  Years ago, Saturday was a day spent at the Grandmothers house watching the 6 channel telly.  Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks were wrestling other hairy fat men, horse racing galore, Dickie Davies, Corned beef (salt beef to Englishmen) cabbage and potatoes for dinner, and Clarke's the bakers cakes washed down with supercans of coke.  Great times.

This Saturday began at 5:30am.  A brush of the teeth and a coffee later, I was motoring my way to Essex to pick up Rob for a 7:30 rendezvous with big boy Jim.  A game of golf was a foot.

18 holes later, we finished golf and went home.  I won't go into who won and who lost.  Let's just say I didn't win but I had fun none the less.  36 points off 16 so good enough for me.

I must tell you of some stunning views on the way out.  The sun was coming up over the 2012 Olympic site and if I had my phone at the ready, I would have had a great photo to show...but I didn't and I don't and I was doing 60 in a 40mph zone.  I'll have the camera ready next time.

Later that day (today), United came back from 2-0 down at half time to beat the Hammers 2-4 so that was nice.

It wasn't all play today mind.  The garden needed attention, as did the wife and son.  Once the garden and wife were sorted, the son came out to play and had a great time. Earlier though, while the boy was sleeping, I did a bit of cigar research.  You see, we have a big weekend planned for June, when we hit Rock-a-field, which is in Luxembourg for 1 day only.  The task I assigned myself to complete over the next few months, is to pick out cigars worthy of Raul the wise and The Big Johnny D.  Two great afficionados.

First up will remain nameless, as this is a big contender for the honour.  Next up was the Cain Maduro 654T which was crap.  A heavy cigar, tasteless, tight, veiny and spotty.  It looked good enough at first but was hard to cut like rubber.  Smoked like it was made of rubber too. The band was on the toe so that had to be removed before lighting, which I think is a mistake as the band nearly unraveled the wrapper.  Disappointing cigar.

Later tonight, it's the turn of the Rocky Patel Robusto Vintage 1990.  Not sure what to expect with this one but I'll let you know once it's gone.

Change of plan...  it's gone...When I wasn't looking just now, i.e. blogging, the boy managed to get his hands on the Rocky Patel and do serious damage, so that review will have to wait.  I suppose something else will have to do...gone for a Ramon Allones Specially Selected. Oh well.

Today was sponsored by St. Peters Best Bitter.

 Cigar and wheels
Cigar and Mint

Cigar and gardening fingers